In keeping with its new emphasis on vertical brands (as opposed to the AOL portal), Time Warner’s AOL launched redesigned stock quotes pages this morning. Some slick new features that Yahoo and others will probably want to copy. Such as:
- 25-year flash charts
- Nice organisation of news/blog aggregation
- Date-to-date return calculator
The larger issue: The redesign will put AOL into the (temporary) lead over Yahoo, Google, etc., on a couple of key features. This alone, however, won’t be enough to ensure AOL Money’s ongoing success…
As the chart below shows (courtesy of Comscore and TechCrunch), AOL Money is hanging in there: No. 3 in the global rankings, behind Yahoo Finance and MSN Money. No. 3 is impressive, and shows the stickiness of (among other things), stock portfolios.
(Google, embarrassingly, is still in 5th place, behind CNN Money, but we imagine that, in some future decade, Google management will finally decide to rectify this by putting a permanent link to Finance on the Google front page. Or maybe not. [Insert rant about absurd Google religious devotion to search box at expense of lots of great vertical areas here])
In any event: our assumption is that a lot of AOL’s Money traffic comes from AOL members checking their stock portfolios. The redesign suggests that AOL is committed to continuing to invest in the product, which is positive: If some of those portfolio checkers can be trained to use the portal for other Finance needs, the site might be able to develop a following separate and apart from AOL. (Might. It will be tough to persuade habitual Yahoo Finance users to switch just because the charts are temporarily slicker. Google is having this problem, too).
However! There’s definitely an opportunity here. Microsoft’s web content strategy is in chaos, so its position as No. 2 is far from secure. Yahoo is still having motivation problems. Google is apparently content to have its excellent Finance team innovate in a closet. So if AOL does continue to invest here, AOL Money does have an opportunity to build a stand-alone finance brand.
This effort would be in keeping with AOL senior management’s deemphasis of the AOL portal in favour of stand-alone smaller brands, so senior management will probably get behind the idea. But the clock is ticking…